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Special Needs Planning
If your beneficiaries include a person who receives public assistance, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, it is critical that your estate plan not impact their ongoing eligibility to qualify for those benefits. When a person receiving SSI and Medicaid receives an inheritance, their continued eligibility is immediately threatened. The best planning typically includes the creation of a “supplemental needs trust,” sometimes also referred to as a “special needs trust.” When you leave your disabled beneficiary’s inheritance in a supplemental needs trust, you are protecting their eligibility for their public assistance, enabling them to retain their income stream and medical benefits, while creating a separate fund that can be used to make your beneficiary’s life more comfortable and enjoyable. When the beneficiary passes away, any funds remaining in trust pass to other beneficiaries you name in the trust.
Sometimes a loved one with special needs receives an outright inheritance. We can help establish a plan to protect the inheritance, such as creating a special needs trust (also called a d4A trust) or a pooled trust. These trusts are less attractive, however, because they contain Medicaid payback provisions. Upon the death of the beneficiary, the trustee must reimburse Medicaid to the extent there are funds remaining in the trust.